Cloister Commentary, Day 2: “Humbled” (March 22, 2020)

I was talking to my dad on the phone the other day; he’s 84 and Mom’s 82, they’re down in southwest Missouri, and we’re keeping close tabs on them, of course. I was expressing my concern, when he very evenly, very matter-of-factly, very stoically replied, “Well, it’s just nature’s way of thinning out the population.” The wisdom of an elder: so comforting. But…yeah. Perhaps we require some humbling, just as a reminder of our essential insignificance to the overall works.

Speaking of, I am really enjoying the budding of the plants in our landscaping this year. I did the fall clean-up and pruning myself, and apparently didn’t KILL ANYTHING! But watching those buds pop out made me a mite envious: they’re outside opening up to the sun and sky, we’re hunkered down inside and…well, we don’t need to close up, for certain, but you know what I mean. Maybe I’ve been reading too much Mary Oliver. We did walk the old pooch up the block to drop some books off at a neighbor’s curbside loaning library (on Leslie, if you’re curious), but I locked us out of our house–during a pandemic, well-played! Fortunately, a friend has our spare key and we were able to recloister ourselves.

Yesterday was also our wedding anniversary, and we celebrated with the following: a great “quarantine concert” on Facebook by Edward Hamell (he’s playing another show Thursday we will also check out); some powerful music from the Sahel (see below); a couple beers; breakfast dinner (poached eggs, bacon, fried taters, grapefruit–I ate that under duress–and waffles with real maple syrup); and a further episode in Hulu’s adaptation of Celeste Ng‘s LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE. Not bad for being locked in with each other.

Rituals are good. And necessary.

Anyone else out there more beset than usual by thoughts of how the rest of the billions currently breathing are navigating this? When I start thinking about that, and reflect on my blessings–I’m coming back around full circle here–it brings me a sense of near-relief of how very minor my suffering and anxieties (right now, calculating what many months of this could be like, plus a danged pinched nerve in my hip that almost cripples me at times) really are. That may sound strange, but there it is. Comforting. The world doesn’t revolve around me–it takes a little pressure off.

Streaming for shut-ins (seriously, this is a beautiful album, recorded inside a dwelling in Bamako while outside a militant human plague was running rampant–it might inspire you):

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